Influenza virus-like particles produced by transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana induce a protective immune response against a lethal viral challenge in mice.
ABSTRACT A strain-specific vaccine represents the best possible response to the threat of an influenza pandemic. Rapid delivery of such a vaccine to the world's population before the peak of the first infection wave seems to be an unattainable goal with the current influenza vaccine manufacturing capacity. Plant-based transient expression is one of the few production systems that can meet the anticipated surge requirement. To assess the capability of plant agroinfiltration to produce an influenza vaccine, we expressed haemagglutinin (HA) from strains A/Indonesia/5/05 (H5N1) and A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1) by agroinfiltration of Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Size distribution analysis of protein content in infiltrated leaves revealed that HA was predominantly assembled into high-molecular-weight structures. H5-containing structures were purified and examination by transmission electron microscopy confirmed virus-like particle (VLP) assembly. High-performance thin layer chromatography analysis of VLP lipid composition highlighted polar and neutral lipid contents comparable with those of purified plasma membranes from tobacco plants. Electron microscopy of VLP-producing cells in N. benthamiana leaves confirmed that VLPs accumulated in apoplastic indentations of the plasma membrane. Finally, immunization of mice with two doses of as little as 0.1 microg of purified influenza H5-VLPs triggered a strong immune response against the homologous virus, whereas two doses of 0.5 microg of H5-VLPs conferred complete protection against a lethal challenge with the heterologous A/Vietnam/1194/04 (H5N1) strain. These results show, for the first time, that plants are capable of producing enveloped influenza VLPs budding from the plasma membrane; such VLPs represent very promising candidates for vaccination against influenza pandemic strains.
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ABSTRACT: During the last decade, the spectre of an influenza pandemic of avian origin has led to a revision of national and global pandemic preparedness plans and has stressed the need for more efficient influenza vaccines and manufacturing practices. The 2009 A/H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak has further emphasized the necessity to develop new solutions for pandemic influenza vaccines. Influenza virus-like particles (VLPs)—non-infectious particles resembling the influenza virus—represent a promising alternative to inactivated and split-influenza virions as antigens, and they have shown uniqueness by inducing a potent immune response through both humoral and cellular components of the immune system. Our group has developed a plant-based transient influenza VLP manufacturing platform capable of producing influenza VLPs with unprecedented speed. Influenza VLP expression and purification technologies were brought to large-scale production of GMP-grade material, and pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that low doses of purified, plant-produced influenza VLPs induce a strong and broad immune response in mice and ferrets. This review positions the recent developments towards the successful production of influenza VLPs in plants, including the production of VLPs from other human viruses and other forms of influenza antigens. The platform developed for large-scale production of VLPs is also presented along with an assessment of the speed of the platform to produce the first experimental vaccine lots from the identification of a new influenza strain.Plant Biotechnology Journal 05/2010; 8(5):607 - 619. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-7652.2009.00496.x · 5.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The production in genetically modified plants of recombinant proteins for pharmaceutical or industrial use, also referred to as "plant molecular farming", deserves increasing interest due to its potential advantages. However, this type of application of genetic engineering also raises some biosafety concerns, in particular regarding aspects such as transgene spread in the environment or accidental contamination of the food and feed chains. This review presents the current state of the art of this sector, discusses some relevant regulatory issues and outlines important scientific aspects that should be considered during the safety assessment of genetically modified plants grown for this purpose. In particular, it addresses general strategies as well as specific potential containment measures that could be applied to limit the potential environmental and human health impacts linked to plant molecular farming.
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ABSTRACT: The simultaneous expression of structural proteins of virus can produce virus-like particles (VLPs) by a self-assembly process in a viral life cycle even in the absence of genomic material. Taking an advantage of structural and morphological similarities of VLPs to native virions, VLPs have been suggested as a promising platform for new viral vaccines. In the light of a pandemic threat, influenza VLPs have been recently developed as a new generation of non-egg based cell culture-derived vaccine candidates against influenza infection. Animals vaccinated with VLPs containing hemagglutinin (HA) or HA and neuraminidase (NA) were protected from morbidity and mortality resulting from lethal influenza infections. Influenza VLPs serve as an excellent model system of an enveloped virus for understanding the properties of VLPs in inducing protective immunity. In this review, we briefly describe the characteristics of influenza VLPs assembled with a lipid bilayer containing glycoproteins, and summarize the current progress on influenza VLPs as an alternative vaccine candidate against seasonal as well as pandemic influenza viruses. In addition, the protective immune correlates induced by vaccination with influenza VLPs are discussed.Virus Research 05/2009; 143(2):140-6. DOI:10.1016/j.virusres.2009.04.005 · 2.83 Impact Factor